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New Roycroft Campus museum space puts Hubbard's life, legacy on display

The Roycroft Campus now has a dedicated space on its East Aurora grounds where relics of the writer, printer, philosopher and founder of the artisan community are on display.

The new museum is located inside the restored historic Print Shop building located on the campus. Artifacts displayed inside the room include furniture, artwork, documents and books that belonged to Elbert Hubbard, the Roycroft artisan community's founder. His jacket is featured next to a glass case featuring a bust of his own self and a copy of A Message to Garcia, his best-selling essay. 

"We had a lot of descendants who have provided a good chunk of what we have in the collection," said Amizetta Haj, the Marketing and Visitor Engagement Manager at the Roycroft Campus. "The great-great niece of Elbert Hubbard, Brenda Voorhees, had the largest amount of artifacts that she donated back to us. She also helped fund the establishment of the museum."

Much of the room is original, including the hardwood floors, woodwork around the windows and the fireplace. The space was originally open but Haj explained the decision was made to keep it enclosed in order to protect the artifacts inside. 

Two sculpted busts rest above the hearth. They are of Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, whom Haj said were two of Hubbard's literary heroes. 

The letters and correspondence collected and displayed includes the postcard Hubbard sent to his mother on the day he boarded the Lusitania, the ocean liner on which he and other passengers perished after it was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915, during World War I.

The museum space comes following the completion of several restoration and preservation projects on the campus. Visits are by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays but the museum is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission for the general public is five dollars. Haj said the hope is to raise enough proceeds to fund further restoration work on campus.

"We really hope that because the history is going to be showcased in a way that we've never been able to do before, it will really start to teach the community, and beyond, about what a great part of American history the Roycroft Campus really is," Haj said. "We're hoping it will bring more tourists here. We are a tourist destination. A lot of people seek us already but we hope we're going to grow that."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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